Heart arrhythmia -- that phrase grabs one's attention. Especially if one's mother had a heart attack at age 47 and one is on the brink of turning 41 herself. Coffee, far too much coffee, is the likely cause of my recent mild heart arrhythmia (can mild be an adjective for that kind of phrase?). Routinely I quipped "I don't measure coffee consumption in cups, but rather pots!" Far too American, I fueled myself to power through my day. And then one night I noticed my heart, beating a bit too hard, a bit "off". Noticing one's heart is not usually a good thing, it should simply be there, quietly doing its work while you live life. It does not require a cardiologist to tell me to slow down, to make changes. I did that myself, and they are largely made possible by a frugal life style.
The biggest change was at the office. Regular readers will know that I am an estate planning and probate attorney. Recently I had made the jump from being a solo to having student help and from there hiring the student when she became an attorney. All of a sudden I was working hard than I had since becoming a parent. I had to have enough business to pay her, and the associated costs, before I could pay myself. On paper it appeared doable. But reality was another matter. Doing all that was needed to develop a practice to support two attorneys required time, lots of it, and continual. Coffee got me up in the morning, propelled me into the afternoon, and was my companion into the early evening as I shifted from lawyer mode to parent mode. And then I said enough. Life is too short and precious to power through. The profit was not nearly what I had hoped for, and the expense, money, time and health far greater. So here I am, back to where I started. A solo who gets a little help from eager students on the UW campus. And it feels great. Gone are the inflated expenses of payroll, payroll taxes, training, malpractice insurance, worker's compensation insurance, and more. I still have some employee and insurance costs, but far, far less. I now "own my job" rather than being held captive by my business.
Doing this shift may actually result in an increase of my overall salary, however, it may not. And our frugal life allows me to choose a healthier work life. Our mortgage is small compared to most couples in their 40s with small kids. We bought half of what "the bank" would have qualified us for, and brought a significant down payment to the table. Not only is it small, but it is our only debt. Student loans? Gone years ago. Car payments? None, we own both cars, having paid cash for the most recent one. Minimal utilities - internet, heat & electric -- no cable, no landline, no security system. Credit cards are paid off monthly. Some say we are blessed, we both have sound educations and work in lucrative fields. But our financial life is a product of choices, not salaries. We could have these say professional credentials and live to the brink -- more house, newer fancier cars, fancy trips, nights out on the town. But then we would have more bills and less savings. And not the ability to say "whoa, time to slow down for a few weeks....months....years?"
Thanks for following along on our frugal journey. There is always some new refresh button on our decision to be frugal. Once it was paying off student debt. Then it was saving for a downpayment on a house. There was the matter of the little law suit we had to bring because something was not ideal for our children. And now it is working less to live more. Stay tuned as I navigate life on the frugal side......our aging washer and dryer will likely make an appearance here soon. Performance is not what it should be, and we are contemplating what is the most economical approach. Repair, replace, tolerate for a bit longer? Time will tell.